I’m bringing you some of the most fascinating black footed ferret facts for kids such as black footed ferret diet, habitat, reproduction, and behavior. The black footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), also called American polecat is a Mustelid species endemic to central North America. These animals are classified as endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These ferrets were believed to be extinct until 1981 when they were rediscovered on September 26, 1981. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service launched a captive breeding program in which ferrets were introduced in eight western states and Mexico. Currently, there are around 1,000 individuals in Arizona, Wyoming, and South Dakota. These species are roughly the size of a mink. Black footed ferret is primarily nocturnal and solitary. They prey on prairie dogs which is their primary diet.
Black Footed Ferret Facts For Kids
- The black footed ferret has an elongated body along with a rounded head. It has short legs and stout and a long neck. Ferrets have sharp claws and toes.
- The adult male measures around 500 to 533 mm (20 to 21 inches) in body-length, while the tail measuring at 114 to 127 mm (4.5 to 5.0 inches). The tail comprises 22 to 25% of its body length.
- The males are typically larger than the females.
- The weight of black footed ferret measures around 650 to 1,400 grams (1.4 to 3.1 lb).
- They have completely black feet which gives rise to their names.
- They are buckskintan in color showing unique markings on their body. The color of the breast and stomach ranges from light tan to creamy.
- The males have larger homes ranges as compared to females. The mature females typically occupy the same territory each year. One of the females was observed to occupy a range of 39.5 acres (16 ha). One of the resident males overlapped her territory with an area of 337.5 acres (137 ha) in the same period.
- The movements of ferrets largely rely on the prey density. They are known to travel up to 11 miles (18 km) in search of prey mostly prairie dogs.
- The average lifespan of black footed ferrets is 12 years in captivity.
- The group of ferrets is known as ‘business’.
- They are nocturnal as they tend to sleep around 21 hours a day. They begin to prey at night.
Reproduction and Development | Black Footed Ferret Fact For Kids
- The mating takes place in February and March.
- The period of gestation lasts for about 42 to 45 days after which the female litters 1 to 5 kits.
- The kits are usually born in the months of May and June. The female litters in the prairie dog’s burrows. The ferret becomes mature in its first birthday.
- Kits show themselves out of the burrows 6 weeks after their birth.
- The female alone looks after the young although males also stay in the same dog’s burrow.
What Do Black Footed Ferrets Eat | Black Footed Ferret Facts For Kids
Up to 91% of the ferret’s diet is composed of prairie dogs which mean that they primarily rely on these dogs for their daily consumption. It is because of the declined population of prairie dogs that ferrets are suffering and are rapidly disappearing from most of the major habitats. Generally, the ferret’s diet is determined by the geographical location. Ferrets inhabiting Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and western Colorado, are found to consume white-tailed prairie dogs. They also supplement their diet by eating voles and this usually happens when dogs undergo hibernation.
Black footed ferrets also take on northern grasshopper mice, house mice, deer mice, mountain cottontails, horned larks, western meadowlarks, upland sandpipers, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, and plains pocket gophers. Other prey items include meadow voles, ground squirrels, rabbits, pocket gophers, insects, birds, sagebrush voles, white-tailed jackrabbits, and mountain cottontails. They drink water through eating prey. One mature female ferret along with her kits requires 474 to 1,421 black-tailed prairie dogs each year.
Where Do Black Footed Ferrets Live | Black Footed Ferret Facts For Kids
Ferrets once roamed around extensive areas of western plains. They rely on prairie dogs for food and shelter. Ferrets employ different habitats of these dogs as their own burrows. Prairie dogs had been known to occupy 100 million acres of western rangelands in the early 1900. The habitat range of these dogs often overlapped with ferrets in the semiarid grasslands, Great Plains, and mountain basins of North America. These animals are found to live in the southern Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Some of these species also inhabit Wyoming, Bog Horn Basin, and Meeteetse. Some of the notable regions where ferrets have been reintroduced include Montana, UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Shirley Basin, South Dakota, Aubrey Valley, Cheyenne River Sioux, Colorado, Utah, northern Chihuahua, and Cheyenne River Sioux.